Thought for the day: "I was addicted to the hokey pokey - but I turned myself around.."
Today I rejoined an old Chivalric Order.. well to be truthful I did not leave the order - I was a founder back in 2004 as I recall but fo rmany years have not been able to participate..
Today I became a joining member in Carmarthen with the intention of trying to help strengthen the Chapel ...
That we have a revival of this very English Order of Chivalry is due
to the untiring efforts of our first Grand Master, Sir John of Dorking.
John spent more than twenty years searching the archives of the
Guildhall Library for information about the Order of St Thomas of Acon
intending initially to write its history. Happily, he discovered the
report of the Installation of the Master in 1510, an account so unusual
and so typically English, that he felt compelled to revive the Order,
albeit Masonically, rather than attempt to compete with the many
histories of these Islands - some, alas, more lurid than accurate which
vie for public attention.
In former times, few could read or write so that
memories were better developed than ours. Pythagoras forbade all
writing, considering it "the destroyer of all memory"; fortunately most
people were more tolerant. It was not necessary to record what was to be
spoken, nor to give more than headings of the order of events; such
clues as have survived require imaginative interpretation. Good stories,
on the other hand, (such as those of Becket, father and son), were
written down for use as homilies by priests.
The Third Crusade began in 1189 AD, and on the 8th June
1191 King Richard 1 (Richard Coeur de Lion) arrived with his forces,
before the seaport of Acre, and captured the city in 5 weeks. Amongst
the English force was one, William, the Chaplain to the Dean of St
Paul's, who when he saw the corpses of the Christians about the walls of
Acre, had compassion on them. With the aid of a few helpers he buried a
large number of the dead, and tended the wounded.
Seeing that his
actions were being appreciated, William formed an Order for the express
purpose of burying Christian Knights who fell in battle in the Holy
To this first purpose he added a second, the raising of monies to
redeem ransomed captives captured by the Saracens. The Order being
formed at Acre its name was incorporated in the title (the Anglicised
version ofAcre being Acon).
The Order was so successful that William was
able to build a church and churchyard that he dedicated to St Thomas 'a
Becket, thus the Order became entitled the Commemorative Order of St
Thomas of Acon, Through disease and death of the other knights fighting
in the Holy Land, this Order of English monks was pressed into service
as replacements, and became an Order of military monks, (it was also at
this time circa 1279 that the Prior lost his pre-eminent position, this
being accorded to the Master), fighting alongside the Knights of the
Temple, the Knights of the Hospital of St John the Almsgiver, the
Knights of the Hospital of Lazarus and the Teutonic Knights of the
Hospital of St Mary. King Richard I rewarded their valour by according
them the status of an Order of Chivalry. Of all the five noble Orders of
knights in the Holy Land at this time, only this Order had a purely
English foundation - a fact of which we should be justly proud.
In England the Order acquired the property of the Becket family in
Cheapside where they built a Chapel and a headquarters. Following the
battle of Acre, the Order of St Thomas of Acon merged temporarily with
the Order of the Temple. When the knights were subsequently driven out
of Cyprus, the Chapel of the Order ofSt Thomas was the only church on
the island permitted to ring its bells. Remains of this church can still
Old records are sparse, the last admission into the Order being recorded on the 2nd
February 1367, but that the order continued is not in doubt as the
records of the Installation of a Master in 1510 mentioned above
demonstrate and it was listed as one of the Orders dissolved by Henry
At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, he offered the Chapel
of the Order for sale, and, in memory of St Thomas (Thomas 'a Becket
being canonised barely two years after his death during the Lentern
period in 1173), and in view of the association of his father, Gilbert,
with their trade, the Worshipful Company of Mercers purchased it.
Chapel in Cheapside was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and the
present Mercers Hall and Chapel were built on the site. This is a matter
of historical record, lengthy articles have been published in the
"Historical Review", which is available in most public libraries and in
All that remains today to remind us of that building is
the recumbent statue of Christ, which lies at the entrance of the new
Mercers' Chapel. Additionally, the Church of St Thomas, in the City of
London, was built in honour of St Thomas 'a Becket, and the Mayor, on
the day of his Installation, always attended Mass in that church, before
proceeding to St Paul's.
So - enough history lesson for one day ..